By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Student-athlete Michael MacGillivray didn’t celebrate much after medaling at this year’s national sprint medley championships in North Carolina.
Rather, he sat at a post-meet barbecue and watched his brother graduate high school back in Massachusetts via Facetime.
A rising senior at Whitinsville Christian School, MacGillivray spent this past spring living out a track and field underdog story as he and three friends learned and quickly dominated the often overlooked sprint medley event. As that year came to a close far from where it began, MacGillivray still tried his best to stay close to the family that had cheered him on through it all.
“It all worked out and I was so glad I got to see [my brother] graduate even though I wasn’t there to see it in person,” MacGillivray said.
Long before he and friends Jeff Curtis, Darnell Worley and Joseph Thumann travelled to the national championships, they formed their relay team at an afterschool track practice after a parent suggested they form a sprint medley squad.
MacGillivray and Curtis would both run 200-meter legs of the races, before Worley and Thumann took over to run 400-meter and 800-meter legs, respectively.
Untested, that hybrid team debuted their talents midway through the spring and promptly heard stunning news after winning their first race.
“Darnell came up to us and said ‘We’re only six seconds off nationals.’” MacGillivray said. “Six seconds was a lot of time, but we all agreed, ‘Let’s go for it!’”
From there, the team headed to an invitational meet in Norwell several weeks later in hopes of cutting their time down and punching their ticket to North Carolina.
A small delegation of runners from their small school in Northbridge, MacGillivray said it was hard to miss the stark differences between their team and the behemoths that neighbored them on the infield grass, and whose names echoed over stadium loudspeakers as they racked up race wins throughout the day.
“It was intimidating standing there and looking at everyone with their tents set up and their busses in the parking lot,” he said. “We were just four boys who came with our families, and here were all these huge programs with loads of kids who qualified.”
But the group overcame – not only winning their race, but axing a full nine seconds off their time, comfortably qualifying for nationals.
That’s when it became a family matter for MacGillivray. He said he went home that night and immediately searched the date of nationals hoping he would be able to attend his brother’s graduation and run his race. He quickly found, however, the two events were taking place just one hour apart.
“I was kind of bummed out,” he said. “I knew I would be able to go to nationals but I just didn’t know how we were going to figure out the logistics of it.”
In the end McGillivray and his family settled those logistics. He got to North Carolina and his family was even able to watch him run thanks to an online livestream of the race. Capping it all, the relay team raced to a fifth-place finish in their “Emerging Elite” division.
Their season now behind them, MacGillivray and his friends are enjoying a summer free of the rigorous training they put themselves through to succeed. But even now, MacGillivray has his sights set on next year’s national championships. His family wants to see Michael sprint in person next time.